30 October 2009

Why I can’t follow you any more…

Recently, I spent some time with some guys talking about where they are in life and what they want for themselves. And from their leaders.

None of them liked where they were both in life and in the church-situation in which they found themselves. They felt they had given their "best years" (although they weren't ancient) for naught. And they carried a sense of pain associated with those who were leading them. Although they were not a happy lot, they were honest but not angry; they were hurt but not spiteful. They expressed why they would "move on" if they could. (But most felt they couldn't because of financial and family obligations.) So here's a list of some of their thoughts regarding their leaders…

Why I can't follow you any more:

  • You never communicate with me. Sometimes, you communicate at me and sometimes you communicate to me, but you never really with me. I get the email, the Twitters and the FB updates. I get the memos and even attend the meetings where we discuss The Vision, but you never communicate with me. Or hear my heart. Or want my input. You see me – I think – as a staff member and therefore a hireling. I know, you are The Man With The Vision, but I have one too. I sense that you see my value – rather than being intrinsic and God-given – as derived from my ability to carry out your vision.
  • You speak of me with honor, but fail to utilize me or my gifts. At first, I thought that was really cool, when you referred to me as a great part of the team and bragged about what a great "find" I was. But now, even though you still speak of me that way, you never let me do what I'm here to do. You've somehow made me a fake. You've extolled my virtues without letting me use my gifts. I feel empty and shallow, and I think it's because you say one thing about me, but won't let me play it out in real-time, in real life. I think the greatest honor would be to trust me to do what God has gifted me to do.
  • You hang out with the wrong people. And I know when I say this you'll take on that messianic mantle that you have (sorry about being so blunt) and say, 'Jesus was known for the 'wrong people' He hung out with,' but that's not what I mean. You hang out with a bunch of self-centered ego-centric types who use you and your influence to further their own cause and feather their own nest. These guys are sub-par. And they like to use you, your name and position. You need to spend some time with the no-names like me. You need to hang with the up-and-coming who aren't even on the horizon yet. They could benefit from what you have and who you are. But nobody would know it for twenty years, so you'd probably not get anything from them.
  • Sometimes, you're running on fumes, and don't know it. You can't keep referring back to what you've done and what you've accomplished and still get me to follow you. Sure you were successful. But you rode the success fueled by the times. It's a new day and what worked then, won't work now. And you know, no matter how many times you say 'The Gospel is timeless,' it won't make it relevant to the situation. Just because Gospel flannel boards worked in the '50's doesn't mean they'll work now.

Listening to these guys broke my heart. They're leaders looking to be lead. They're looking for someone to care enough to mold them and help them fulfill their God assigned destiny.

I'm afraid they are not the minority.

29 October 2009

People Development

I'm in the people development business.

So, Tim wants to start an organic church. And I want to coach him on getting the values right before he begin the "seen" work. Values are what drive the vision. Most of us have wrong values having not done the hard internal work of what we really think is important. I know, I know! We all think we have the right values: family, Bible, church, etc. But really, values are those things we actually DO. We might say we value "family", but in reality – since we spend no time with them – is that really a "value?" So, my job is really help Tim think through these things. I don't give him the right values. I help him discover what ideas and actions he really holds dear. These are his true values.

David wants to reenter pastoral ministry. And he's been out for a while and church reentry is kinda like the space shuttle coming back into the earth's atmosphere – full of heat and danger. David left ministry, not because of moral failure or the usual "get out of ministry" cards, he just burned out. Crashed and burned after watching things fall apart time and time again. But there is a genuine Gift in his life. A God-given difference-making Gift. A Gift that still troubles him and keeps him awake at night. I want to help him re-engineer his vision and then look for space as a middle-aged man in the church world.

Eric wants to overcome addiction. That should be enough to say, except he's a Jesus-follower who knows all the right answers and has been through all the right calisthenics, but still feels condemned and trapped. I want to see him move forward. Counseling hasn't helped. I want to coach him forward.

Tom wants to hear God speak. There is an obstacle. I'm helping him by coaching him around it.

Nathan & Ken want to survive. They're not yet in the victory mode. And you must survive before you can thrive. Making a difference can take a toll and I want to help them move from where they are to where they want to be.

Bobby wants to send people all over the world. He needs a little help.

Matt wants to be sent as a missionary. And he needs to go, he's got much to give.

I must help them all! That's what I do. We once called it ministry, but now "ministry" is mostly about preaching and self-promotion. (Mostly) That's why I see myself in People Development. My gifts and call are not to be expended on myself, but to help develop others.

I'm just saying...

21 October 2009

Thinking about Grief

Sunday I spoke at Harvest Church here in Pensacola. I was the third part of a four part series called "Leaving the House fo Blues" dealing with emotions. My part was to address grief and grieving.

You can listen here: http://tinyurl.com/ykt2rho

13 October 2009

He's Bacccccck

Been away!

July, Phyllis and I were in Nicaragua for most of the month with the Globe NextStep Missions Training School.  What a great bunch of folks to be with!!  Then in August we were in Valdosta, Georgia where I was "holed up" in my study (lovingly dubbed "The Cave" - although it's nice) doing some writing.  And in September, we traveled to East Africa ministering and visiting old friends in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.  I was in the bush with church-planting pastors, in big cities with passionate Jesus-loving entrepreneurs and with heart-driven missionaries.

So, we've been away.

But there are about a million things in my heart and mind that I want to share with you.  Now I just need the time to actually do it.  Blog it. Write it.

I need to talk/write about what I see in the church and what I see in the Kingdom.  And what I sense in the Spirit.  Good things as well as troubling.

We live in both the best of times and the worst of times!  Wow, wow and wow!